Aidan’s James Bond Medley, Ian Fleming’s Books

Roger Moore was my favorite James Bond as a kid.

He’s on the mend, and Aidan was down for much of last week with some kind of pneumonia.

Beyond putting an extra damper on what for him was already a less than desirable vacation by virtue of spending all of it with Dunreith, Mike, Jon and me, his sickness put him on the couch for a solid number of hours after his return home.

We are not talking about Guinness Record Book territory here, but certainly long enough to download a whole bunch of James Bond flicks and start to make his way through them.

For most people I’ve met, the preferred James Bond actor depends on who you saw first.  For me, that was Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me.

I was a middle school student when I first saw Bond leave the Austrian cottage and ski off the mountain to seeming death, only to launch a parachute with the British colors on it.

I couldn’t have been more impressed, although a subsequent viewing made me realize both how obvious the scenes were when the stunt men were there and how campy the music was.

The erosion of a cherished childhood memory notwithstanding, Aidan’s film marathon-he started with some of the Sean Connery classics like You Only Live Twice, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever-brought back images of having made my way through just about all of Ian Fleming’s series.

Dad got them for me.  To be sure, they were not great literature, but, again, for an adolescent boy, they more than tickled my fancy.

The author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang did not write in many of the gadgets for which Bernard Lee’s “M” was so famous later.  There were standard elements in each book-Bond’s scar was always was sure to appear, and you were pretty certain that he would at some point near the end of the book be engaged in a passionate embrace that was awfully similar to the ones in other books-and the plot certainly did not have a whole lot of suspense.  By definition, you knew that Bond was going to emerge triumphant, usually after things seemed most bleak and hopeless, whether when he was trapped in the train in From Russia With Love or staring at a pair of worthless cards in Casino Royale.

And, to be sure, I was not reading the books for their literary merit.

They were action, pure and simple, carried out by a ruthless yet charming killer who drove an Aston Martin Mark DB III, had his drinks shaken, not stirred, and used his Walther PPK to deadly effect.

The books and films violate all kinds of politically correct standards-the book version of The Spy Who Loved Me contained the line, “All women love semi-rape,” to give just one example-and, perhaps unfortunately, that all floated above or seeped into me as a young reader and viewer.

Aidan’s on the mend, so I’m not sure how many more of the Bond films he’ll be watching in the ensuing days.   I do know that I’m glad that tonight, when we went to get a bunch of books from Barnes and Noble, he went not to the “F”s in the fiction section, but rather to the “V”s, where he got a host of Kurt Vonnegut books.

I’m glad for the memories, too, and for getting my head back, if just for a minute, into a time when reading the next Bond book was a treasured experience, even if I later have come to see the works so differently.

Has this happened to you with books or movies or memories?  What did you feel about it?  Are some images better left untouched?


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